How to Wash a Mattress Protector

Cleaned mattress protector held in a wicker basket

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

A mattress is an expensive purchase that we hope will last for seven to 10 years. Using a mattress protector will protect your investment and even give you a better night's sleep. Depending upon the type of mattress protector you select, it can repel or prevent stains, reduce dust mites and bed bugs, or add a layer of comfort. No matter what type of protector you choose, you'll need to wash your mattress protector.

There are three basic styles of mattress protectors. Each style is sold as down-filled, made from natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or waterproof polyurethane.

  • Zippered encasement: This protector covers the entire mattress from top to bottom. It is the best protector to prevent bed bug infestations and dust mites from settling in the mattress.
  • Fitted: Designed similar to a fitted sheet, the protector slips over the top of the mattress and tucks under with fitted pockets.
  • Elastic Strap: The mattress protector is held onto the top of the mattress with elastic straps that anchor it at each corner.

Every style of mattress protector can be washed at home. However, the proper way to wash a mattress pad depends on the type of material used for its construction.

How Often to Wash a Mattress Protector

Since the mattress protector is covered by the bottom sheet, it only needs to be washed once a month. Allergy sufferers will find it helpful to wash the mattress protector every two weeks, and the protector should be washed more often if someone has a cold or viral illness. However, if there has been a spill or a bedtime accident involving blood or urine, the protector should be washed immediately.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washer or bathtub
  • Dryer, drying rack, or clothesline
  • Wool dryer balls
  • Soft-bristled nylon brush

Materials

  • Regular laundry detergent
  • Enzyme-based stain remover
  • Down wash

Instructions

 Detergent  Regular laundry detergent or down wash
 Water Temperature  Warm or cold
 Cycle Type  Normal or bulky
 Drying Cycle  Normal or low
 Special Treatments  Air-dry polyurethane protectors
 Iron Settings  Does not require ironing
Materials and tools to clean a mattress protector

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  1. Remove the Bedding and Read the Label

    Remove all of the bedding from the bed to access the mattress protector. Then, remove it from the mattress. Every mattress protector has a care label that will direct you in choosing the correct washing and drying temperatures.

    Tip

    It's a good idea to have two mattress protectors for each bed so you will have a clean one on hand if you don't have time to wash and dry the protector before the bed is needed again. Having an extra protector is particularly helpful for cribs, the beds of small children, or bed-bound adults.

    Mattress protector label being checked before cleaning

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  2. Inspect and Treat Stains

    If there are visible blood, food, or drink stains, treat them with an enzyme-based stain remover or a dab of good laundry detergent. Work the stain remover into the mattress protector with a soft-bristled nylon brush. Let the stain remover sit on the stain for at least 10 minutes to begin breaking apart the molecules before you wash the protector.

    Soft-bristled nylon brush scrubbing stain remover on mattress protector

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  3. Select and Add the Detergent

    Your regular laundry detergent works well for washing every type of mattress protector fabric except down-filled protectors. For down-filled protectors, you'll need to use a down cleaner like Granger's Down Wash or Nikwax Down Wash. These products are formulated to remove soil and odor while protecting the moisture-repellent qualities of the feathers. If you do not have down wash available, use a gentle and low-sudsing detergent. Harsher detergents can strip the feathers of their natural oils.

    Warning

    Do not use chlorine bleach or dry clean a waterproof mattress protector like the cooling mattress protector from Brooklyn Bedding. The chemicals can damage the waterproof quality of the protector.

    Laundry detergent added to washing machine

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  4. Select the Water Temperature and Washer Cycle

    Warm or cold water is the best choice for washing mattress protector fabrics. Use the normal or bulky items cycle. The bulky cycle has a slower final spin speed to help keep your washer in balance. You should wash the protector on its own to avoid damage.

    Warm water temperature set on washing machine

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  5. Select a Drying Method

    Most mattress protectors can be dried on a drying rack, clothesline, or in a dryer on the normal, timed cycle. One exception is a polyurethane or waterproof protector. It should be air-dried or dried on very low heat. Down-filled protectors should be dried on low heat with wool dryer balls added to the dryer to help keep the feathers from clumping.

    Always be sure that the mattress protector is thoroughly dried before placing it back on the mattress. Trapped moisture could cause problems with mildew growth on the mattress.

    Dryer set to a timed drying cycle

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Repairing a Mattress Protector

Small rips or loose elastic straps can be repaired by hand or with a sewing machine. Waterproof protective coverings should be replaced if they become torn. It is usually more cost-effective to replace a zippered encasement protector with a broken zipper than to have the zipper replaced.

Storage

Mattress protectors should be folded like a fitted sheet or rolled for storage in a linen closet. Be sure that the protector is thoroughly dry before storing.